Tuesday, July 24, 2012
One Victim’s Story of A Miracle Inside the Aurora Shooting
By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
AURORA, CO (ANS) -- Twenty-two-year-old Petra Anderson was shot and critically injured during the shooting at The Dark Knight Rises premiere in Aurora, CO, early last Friday, July 20, 2012. In addition to the three shotgun pellets that hit her arm, one pellet went through her nose, rode up the back of her cranium, and hit the back of her skull.
Her pastor, Brad Strait serves as Senior Pastor of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Englewood, Colorado, is a Chaplain for several fire and police departments, served twelve years as Chaplain of the House for the Colorado House of Representatives, and teaches Leadership and Spiritual Formation at Denver Seminary.
Strait was at the hospital where Petra underwent delicate surgery to remove the shotgun pellet lodged in her brain.
On his Blog, ‘Celtic Straits’, at http://tinyurl.com/csslwjl , Pastor Strait recalls what happened that night.
“At Columbine, I have seen this before. But not up close,” he wrote.
“However, in this new tragedy at the Aurora Theater Dark Night shooting, one of the victims was a 22-year-old woman from my church, Petra Anderson (pronounced Pay-tra). Petra went to the movies with two young friends who are biking across America. You and I have been inundated with news about what happened next. A joyful movie turned into bloody, unbelievable chaos.
“Petra was hit four times with a shot-gun blast, three shots into her arm and one bullet which entered her brain. This a bit of Petra’s miracle story.”
“Her injuries were severe, and her condition was critical. A bullet had entered Petra’s face through her nose, and then traveled up through her brain until stopping at the back of her skull. The doctors prior to surgery were concerned, because so much of the brain had been traversed by the bullet. Many areas of brain function were involved. They were hoping to keep her alive long enough to get her into surgery. The prognosis was uncertain—if she lived, Petra might struggle with speech, movement, and thinking due to considerable brain damage. With Kim, Petra’s mother (who is in the final stages of terminal cancer), we simply cried, hugged, and prayed.”
“One team of neurosurgeons will open up the back of her skull to remove the bullet and clean up brain damage as best they can. Another ENT-specialty surgical team will then work through Petra’s nose by scope to follow the bullet’s path up into her brain. Their hope is to remove bone fragments, clean up damaged brain tissue, and reseal her brain to reduce infection,” Strait said.
“The doctors update us: ‘It went well, and she’s recovering now. We found very little damage to the brain, and got the bullet out cleanly. It went better than we hoped for.’ Each brings a warrior’s smile, and a bit of information --information that we turn into hope as we regurgitate it over the next hours. Still, the medical team remains professional and reserved, ‘Something might still go wrong. We just need to wait and see if she makes it for the next 48 hours.’”
“We are so thankful for these men and women. We hug. Everyone hugs. Then, round two. Sit. Wait. Pray. Fully dressed people cuddle into small snails and try to sleep on the floor. Some are shuttled to a room donated by the Holiday Inn across the street. Thank you, Lord, for every little thing. We sit. We pray. ‘We’ll understand better tomorrow.’”
“With a small hole in her nose, and her arm wrapped, she almost looks uninjured. She is medicated and sleeping when I come to visit her on Saturday. I sit, talk, and pray quietly with[her mother] Kim amid the darkened room, lit by glowing medical screens and power switches. Nurses, like quiet soldiers posted on guard, come in, march attentively through the machines, and go out. These men and women really care. Finally, one of the surgeons comes in to check on Petra. He has had some sleep, and looks more like a movie star this time. As Petra sleeps, he retells the story of the surgery, and we ask questions. The doctor reads the perfect script, as if he is on Hallmark Hall of Fame. He fills us in on the miracle. Honestly, he doesn’t call it that, he just uses words like ‘happily’ and ‘wonderfully’ and ‘in a very fortunate way’ and ‘luckily’ and ‘we were really surprised by that.’ Kim and I know a miracle when we see it.”
“The doctor explains that Petra’s brain has had from birth a small ‘defect’ in it. It is a tiny channel of fluid running through her skull, like a tiny vein through marble, or a small hole in an oak board, winding from front to rear. Only a CAT scan would catch it, and Petra would have never noticed it.
As he shares, the doctor seems taken aback, said Strait.
“It is an odd thing to have a surgeon show a bit of wonder. Professionally, these guys own the universe, it seems, and take everything in stride. He is obviously gifted as a surgeon, and is kind in his manner. ‘It couldn’t have gone better. If it were my daughter’ he says quietly, glancing around to see if any of his colleagues might be watching him, ‘I’d be ecstatic. I’d be dancing a jig.’ He smiles. I can’t keep my smile back, or the tears of joy. In Christianity we call it prevenient grace: God working ahead of time for a particular event in the future. It’s just like the God I follow to plan the route of a bullet through a brain long before Batman ever rises. Twenty-two years before.”
“She opens her eyes, and sits up, ‘Mom.’ Movie-star doctor spins to grab her, to protect her from falling. The nurse assures him she’s been doing this for a while. He talks to her, and she talks back. He asks questions, and Petra has the right answers. ‘Where do you hurt, Petra?’ ‘All over.’ Amazed, but professional, he smiles and leaves the set shaking his head. I am so thankful for this man.”
“Honestly, I look worse before my morning coffee. ‘I’m thirsty,’ she proclaims.
Petra lays down, goes back to sleep -- a living miracle who doesn’t even know it yet. Good flowering out of the refuse pile of a truly dark night. “Thank you, Jesus,” Strait whispers.
“Time for the miracle to go for a walk,” he said.
More information about supporting Petra Anderson and other shooting victims is also available at Hope Rises on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/HopeRisesReliefFund
“Petra survived,” Strait says. “And after her neurosurgery, she appears to be on her way to a full recovery.”
But that's not the whole challenge. he said.
Last month Petra’s mother Kim discovered that the breast cancer she thought was just a bad memory is back and has spread to her liver, bones, and lungs. “Because of complications, she’s had to decline traditional treatment and pursue promising but expensive alternative medicine,” Strait explained.
The cost for Petra’s surgery is high by itself. On top of Kim’s cancer costs, it looks unscalable, Strait said.
More About Kim Anderson
Kim began her fight with cancer after her diagnosis in October of 2009. She has since then faced difficult obstacles with steadfast faith, exemplary strength, and an amazing resolve that is an inspiration to all who know her. Kim’s cancer went into remission at the beginning of 2011. Unfortunately, eighteen months later, her stage-3 cancer is fighting back.
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